Why we like it
- A real gem for adventurous ocean lovers.
- Some of the best diving, fishing, windsurfing and kite surfing anywhere.
- The huge lagoon is a very special place and experience indeed.
- Off the beaten track ocean adventure mecca.
Some 620 kilometres north-east of Mauritius lies Rodrigues: the jewel in the crown of the Mascarene Islands, an 18-kilometre by 8-kilometre pearl surrounded by a crystalline blue lagoon twice its size. The secure waters of the lagoon and the trade winds that gently buffer the island provide many opportunities for the adventurous.
At the heart of the Indian Ocean Rodrigues Island stretches over a surface area of 108 sq km some 620 km to the north-east of Mauritius, it is the part of Africa that is closest to Australia.
Rodrigues is a wonderful playground for scuba divers who quickly fall in love with the diverse coral reef eco-system and its colourful assortment of sub-aquatic flora and fauna. Equally, the island appeals to those with a love of windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing and fishing. Thanks to its outer reef edges sitting nearly ten kilometres away from the coastline, Rodriguan waters are rich in fish. In fact, no fewer than three world record catches have been hooked here since 2005.
It isn’t only those who like the ocean that will be swayed by Rodrigues’ charms. Yellows, greens and blues, nature on Rodrigues throbs with a palette of colours. Rarely will visitors encounter such a variety of landscapes in such a small area.
Born from volcanic activity between 1.3 and 1.5 million years ago, the island 18 km long and 8 km wide, is the smallest of the Mascarene archipelago. Rodrigues is a mountainous island with a succession of valleys plunging to the 300 sq km lagoon, bringing an exhilarating feeling of weightlessness whilst meandering through steep escarpments and terraced fields towards its 80-km coastline. The island enjoys a tropical climate with temperatures varying between 28 and 35°C during the summer, which coincides with the cyclonic season (November to April) and between 18 and 27°C in winter.
Set off by foot or for a drive to discover Rodrigues to the rhythm of passing time. “Let time have its way”, “Take your time” are fashionable mantras. Don’t miss the most essential, a fauna and flora that are worth taking the time to admire.
Rodrigues most naturally lends itself to discovery whilst wandering around the island and encountering the population. Share the bond of walking, which has long been the only means for many people to travel from one place to another. Exalting encounters await you along footpaths that are always kept in good condition. Rodrigues has the particularity of offering a variety of landscapes despite its small surface area…
What to see?
- Mont Limon: Mont Limon, the highest point at 398 m above sea level, is situated at the heart of the island. Easily accessible, it offers a panoramic 360° view over the island and its sublime lagoon.
- Port Mathurin: Port Mathurin is the chief town and regional administration centre of Rodrigues. On Saturdays, the town is taken over by a particular atmosphere. It is market day and the day when ships bringing fresh supplies from Mauritius sail into port.
- A Lagoon With Infinite Shades Of Blue: Approaching Rodrigues by air, one gets the measure of the size of the lagoon compared to the surface area of the island, roughly in the proportion of three to one. Traditional fishing activities have been conducted since settlement on the island in the 18th century. The lagoon provides for the needs of the islanders in fish and other seafood. The calling of the lagoon is gradually changing due to its natural characteristics, it lends itself ideally to glide sports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing as well as sailing. Boat trips also remain a major attraction, providing a completely different approach to the small isolated inlets along the coastline. Lost in the shades of blue of the sea, indulge yourself in swimming or snorkelling along the channels that, here and there, link the lagoon to the ocean. After landing on the inlet or on the beach, immerse yourself in the rejuvenating feeling of isolation that prevails.
- Ile Aux Cocos: Located amidst the south-eastern lagoon of Rodrigues and reputed for the sandy necklace of beach encircling its shores, the ill-named Ile aux Cocos is in fact a natural refuge for colonies of seabirds, just like its twin sister, Ile aux Sables, a short distance away. Ile aux Cocos can be accessed by pirogue only by registered operators that have access to the island for the day.
- Trou D’Argent: Accessible on foot from Graviers, Pointe Canon or Saint François, Trou d’Argent is reminiscent of those hidden treasures never to be found. Nestled in an inlet a short distance away from the coral reef, it can be reached with moderate effort by walking along the coastline and preserved narrow creek-like coves. Offering a true change of scenery, its peaceful atmosphere is lulled by the rolling waves almost at arm’s reach, breaking on the reefs. Trou d’Argent has recently been ranked among the 30 best preserved beaches in the world.
- Caverne Patate: Embedded underneath a coral plain resulting from the movement of tectonic plates, Caverne Patate is one of the key places to visit while on vacation in Rodrigues. For a small fee professional guides will take you to discover of the extensive stalactites and stalagmites unique in the Indian Ocean.
- François Leguat Giant Tortoise And Cave Reserve: On the southern coast, just minutes away from the airport, the François Leguat Giant Tortoise and Cave Reserve is the result of passion for the natural heritage of the island. Until the 18th century, three species of tortoise could be found here according to the accounts of François Leguat himself. Over-exploitation as a consequence of man’s quest for fresh meat for sea voyages got the better of the population of reptiles in a matter of decades. Restoration enthusiasts embarked on a project to reintroduce akin species of tortoises from Aldabra and Madagascar, amongst others.
- Rodrigues Jardin des 5 Sens: Located in the centre of the island in an enchanting and verdant scenery is the botanical garden of Rodrigues, “Jardin 5 Sens” offers an immersion in the Rodriguan fauna and flora with endemic plants which are unique in the world, fruit trees, aromatic and medicinal plants and flowers. Through guided tours you can learn about the legends, medicinal virtues and culinary benefits of plants that grow in the Rodriguan fertile soil.
What to do?
- Sailboat Trips: Take the time and enjoy the gentle caress of the wind with a sailboat trip to the inlets in the southern lagoon of Rodrigues for a BBQ or picnic. The experienced skippers will use their know-how to make this a thrilling and unique experience to those who love sea adventures.
- Zipline Adventure: Facing the south coast of Rodrigues with breathtaking views down to the lagoon, Tyrodrig is a zipline adventure that takes you across three lush green valleys. Discover the beauty of the island suspended at a thrilling height of more than 100 meters above the dense vegetation with the longest zipline spanning over 400 meters. You would not want to miss that.
- Kitesurfing And Windsurfing: Rodrigues Island offers ideal conditions for glide sports, namely wind and kitesurfing. The secure waters of an immense lagoon, trade winds blowing almost constantly and an opportunity for the most adventurous to try the reef waves. The world-re-known spots of ‘Pâté Reyneux’ & ‘Mourouk’ have forged the popularity of the island among windsurfers, and more recently among kite-surfers. Fanatics regularly travel to these spots, always eager to enjoy the most favourable conditions for gliding. Glide sports centres offer an array of activities linked to kite-surfing, from rental of training equipment for beginners, proficiency courses, or venturing beyond the lagoon for the more experienced.
- Sport Fishing: A traditional small-scale activity and even a livelihood support for Rodriguan families, fishing developed into a sport with the opening of the island to tourism. Specialist operators are eager to enable the discovery of Rodriguan waters, away from industrial fishing zones in the Indian Ocean. Due to its geographical characteristics, namely outer reef edges ten km’s away from the coast and shoals rich in fish, the sea around Rodrigues is very favourable for a good catch. Rodrigues is gradually making itself a name at international level, where the discipline has won acclaim in the microcosm of multi-fishing zones. Since 2005, no less than three World record catches in Rodriguan waters have been ratified. Rodrigues offers a very good fishing period from October to June and another excellent one from December to April, only cyclonic formations could spoil the catch. Choose among jigging, downrigger fishing and Palangrotte fishing to strike a blue or black marlin, a coryphaen seabream, a giant trevally along the coral reefs, a dog tooth tuna, one of the eight species of groupers, or a red snapper. Seasoned crews whose boats are equipped with state-of-the-art positioning and fishing technology offer day outings. Two-day trips also take enthusiasts to banks abounding in fish, namely the mythical Grand Banc de l’Est (Great Eastern Bank), where they can experiment different fishing techniques and maybe make the catch of their life.
- Regattas: The passion of Rodriguan people was born out of their constant interaction with the sea, beyond providing for their daily living and representing a source of income. The elders still recall certain epic boat races forever ingrained in their minds. After having somehow fallen in disuse, the tradition of regattas was revived by some enthusiasts a few years back. The spirit remains alive and regattas are an integral part of the lexical heritage of the island.
- Diving: All sorts of diving activities are on offer in Rodrigues for beginners and seasoned divers alike. Barely visited by man, the sea bottom as well as the exuberant sub-aquatic fauna and flora offer a fantastic panorama of natural beauty. An initiatory journey is possible in a unique environment at sites with evocative names such as Couzoupa, Trou Zaiguille, Basilique, Trou Pirate, Coco Fesse, Ti Colorado and Aquarium. Of course, opportunities for snorkelling are multiple and diverse around the island, they can be as much a source of enchantment as scuba diving.
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